2010 Lemon Aid Sporty Cars

 

BMW Z4 2011

Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Mitsubishi Eclipse
GM Chevrolet Camaro

Mazda MX-5

Nissan 370Z

Dodge Challenger Mazda RX-8 Volkswagen Eos
Ford Mustang    
     

The sporty car segment is divided between sedan-based coupes like the Dodge Challenger, and purpose-built sports cars such as Mazda RX-8. Sales in this segment are cyclical and driven by novelty. New designs sell well for a few years after introduction, with sales tapering off in subsequent years.
Two key all new models for 2010, the Chevrolet Camaro and Hyundai Genesis coupe, actually went on sale in the spring of 2009. The rebodied 2010 Ford Mustang went on sale about the same time, but has now been superceded by an early-release 2011 model boasting increased power.


BMW Z4

NOT RATED

BMW

2011 Z4 (RWD)

Body Style: 2CV

Engines: 3L-6* 255 HP (30i), 3L-6T 300 HP (35i), 3L-6T 335 HP (35is)

Transmission: 6M, 6A*, 7 Double clutch transmission (DCT)

City fuel economy: 11L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

The 2011 Z4, including a new 35is high-performance model, went on sale in the spring of 2010.   

Comments

The new Z4 hardtop convertible, with a hint of the super chic 507 model from the fifties, is far more elegant than its predecessor. The interior features clear instrumentation, beautiful shapes and high quality materials. The dashboard controls are less muddled than they are on other BMWs. The seats are comfortable, and the car is quite roomy for a sports car. The trunk is small, with a lot of space eaten up by the folded top. Three versions of BMW's 3L straight six power the Z4. The sDrive30i is normally aspirated, the sDrive35 features the same turbo six seen in the 335i, and the sDrive35is high performance model has a new twin turbo system and better intake breathing that translate into greater power with no loss in fuel efficiency. The ungainly sDrive moniker is new-age BMW speak for rear-wheel drive. Two six-speed transmissions, one manual, the other automatic, can be hooked to the 30i. The six-speed manual transmission on the 35i can be replaced with a seven-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission, which is the sole transmission offered on the 35is. Made in Germany.  

Reliability

Not rated, insufficient data. Predicted reliability is average, as most of the mechanicals are shared with other BMW models. Four year/80,000 km warranty.  

Pricing

Expensive options, option packages and engine upgrades. An sDrive35is is priced nearly $30,000 more than a similarly equipped Nissan 370Z convertible. The new Z4 was well received, with sales nearly doubling in 2009.  

Safety

Door-mounted head/thorax side airbags. Not crash tested. Standard ABS and ESC.  


Chevrolet Camaro

NEW

GENERAL MOTORS
CHEVROLET Camaro

Body Style: 2CP

Engines: 3.6L-V6* 304 HP, 6.2L-V8 400 HP (automatic), 426 HP (manual)

Transmissions: 6M, 6A*

City fuel economy: 11.4L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

The Camaro is unchanged since its introduction in the spring of 2009. A convertible body style is expected by the summer of 2011.

Comments

The Camaro is built in Oshawa, Ontario, using the rear-wheel drive architecture from the defunct Pontiac G8. Using the 1969 Camaro as a starting point, GM has created a shape that pays homage to the original while reflecting the small window to high body side proportions so popular with designers today. The cabin reflects a '60's esthetic as well. The Camaro is slightly longer, wider, and quite a bit lower than the Ford Mustang, and smaller in all dimensions than the Dodge Challenger. While those in front enjoy reasonable space, rear seat space is quite tight. The base engine is the direct-injection 304 HP 3.6L V6 seen in the Cadillac CTS, with two versions of the 6.2L V8, producing 400 HP with an automatic transmission and 426 HP with manual, available. The Camaro trumped the Mustang for power in 2010, but the revised 2011 Mustang has now caught up. Made in Canada.

Reliability

New vehicle, not rated. New platform and powertrain for North America. Problems in the first year of production are not unknown on new GM vehicles. Some manual transmission failures have been reported on V8-engined cars. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, with 5 years/160,000 km on the powertrain.

Pricing

Without alloy wheels, the LS will find few takers. The 1LT upgrade delivers a lot of content for the money. The 2LT package represents reasonable value. Very expensive 2SS package. The V8 engine commands a $9000 premium when compared with a similarly-equipped V6 model. The Camaro 3.6L 1LT is not that much more expensive than a Dodge Challenger SXT, especially when you consider its much higher horsepower rating, and the 2SS is significantly cheaper than a Challenger SRT8. Chevrolet shifted about 2500 Camaros in Canada in 2009, and could have sold more if the car hadn't been in such short supply.    

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags. In tests conducted by the NHTSA, the Camaro was rated Good for the driver and front passenger in frontal impacts and Very Good for front occupants (rear not evaluated) in side impacts. Standard ABS and ESC.


Dodge Challenger

NOT RATED

CHRYSLER

DODGE Challenger (RWD)

Body Style: 2CP

Engines: 3.5L-V6* 250 HP, 5.7L-V8 375 HP, 6.1L-V8 425 HP

Transmissions: 5A, 6M (V8s only)

City fuel economy: 12.2L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

The four-speed automatic transmission previously used on V6 Challengers has been replaced by the five-speed automatic used on V8 cars since the Challenger was launched.

Comments

The Challenger is a retro-flavoured traditional "Pony Car" based on the LX platform that underpins the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger. The long-hood, short deck proportions and Coke-bottle shape recall the 1970-1974 Charger (and related Plymouth Barracuda), but with sleek modern surfacing. The Challenger is a lot bigger than the Mustang and Camaro in key dimensions. The cabin design is essentially a modern design with just a hint of historicism for nostalgia fans. Power units include a 3.5L V6, and two V8s, a 5.7L and 6.1L. Power reaches the rear wheels via a five-speed automatic transmission, or, on V8 models, a six-speed manual. The manual transmission features a hill-holder that prevents the car from rolling back when it is on inclines. Made in Canada.

Reliability

New car, not rated. Some front suspension and steering wear problems have been reported on other cars built on this platform. Few other complaints have been received about the related Chrysler 300 and Dodge Challenger. A Chrysler extended warranty is recommended. APA members can receive a discount on the warranty through dealers approved by the APA. Three year/60,000 km warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain (the 5 year/100,000 km powertrain warranty does not apply to the SRT8).  

Pricing

Overpriced SXT and R/T model upgrades. The base Challenger is a bit pricier than a base Mustang, but the R/T is cheaper than the Mustang GT. The introduction of mainstream 3.5L and 5.7L models last year contributed to a 60 percent sales increase for the Challenger.   

Safety

Side-curtain airbags are standard. Seat-mounted side airbags are not offered. In tests conducted by the NHTSA, the Challenger was rated Very Good for the driver and front passenger in frontal impacts and Very Good for all outboard occupants in side impacts. Standard ABS and ESC on all models this year.  


Ford Mustang

ABOVE AVERAGE

FORD

2011 Mustang (RWD)

Body Styles: 2CP*, 2CV                                                   

Engine: 3.7L-V6 305 HP, 5L-V8 412 HP

Transmissions: 6M, 6A*

City fuel consumption: 11.1L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

New engines with massive increases in horsepower output. The previous five-speed transmissions are replaced by new six-speed units. Electric power steering replaces the former hydraulic system. Improved door seals. A limited-slip differential is now standard as is Ford's MyKey system that can limit top speed and audio volume.  

Comments

Ford re-skinned the Mustang last year and this year has updated the powertrains. The old 4L V6 has been replaced a new 3.7L V6 that produces 304 horsepower, 94 more than last year. The V8 has grown from 4.6L to 5L, and has been significantly renewed, including a horsepower boost from 315 to 412. Mustang horsepower ratings are now very close to those of its arch rival, the Chevrolet Camaro. The Mustang retains its traditional live rear axle suspension, eschewing the independent rear suspension favoured by its chief competitors, the Camaro and Challenger. Coupe and convertible body styles are available. Made in the United States. 

Reliability

Predicted average to above average reliability. Ford rear-wheel drive components are generally reliable. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain

Pricing

The V6 Pony package looks very expensive for the additional content it brings. The $11,500 supplement demanded for the V8 engine places it in another market segment than the V6 model. The convertible body style commands a $4400 supplement over a similarly-equipped coupe. Despite a 15 percent dip in sales last year, Mustang sales still equalled those of the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger combined.

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags. Side-curtain airbags are not offered. Not crash tested. ABS and ESC are standard.  


Hyundai Genesis

NEW

HYUNDAI Genesis Coupe (RWD)

Body Style: 2 CP

Engine: 2L-4T* 210 HP, 3.8L-V6 306 HP

Transmission: 6M*, 5A (2L), 6A (3.8L)

City fuel economy: 10.1L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

A navigation system is now optional.

Comments

Built on a 115 mm (4.53 inch) smaller wheelbase, the Genesis coupe is 375 mm (14.76 inches) shorter, the same width and 110 mm (4.33 inches) lower than its donor sedan. The car is dramatically styled but not pretty in a classical sense. The drooping window line behind the front door is a novel feature. Though built on a longer wheelbase than the Mustang, the Genesis is shorter overall. The cabin, with prominent instruments resting at the back of long tubes, is fresh, modern, and constructed from high quality components. The front seats are comfortable, and rear sear space is quite reasonable for a car of this type. Power reaches the rear wheels via either a turbocharged 2L four with 210 horsepower, or a 306 horsepower version of Hyundai's 3.8L V6. Both engines can be linked to a six-speed manual transmission, or automatics with five speeds (2L) or six speeds (V6). The V8, optional on the sedan, is not offered on the coupe. Made in South Korea.

Reliability

Not rated, insufficient data. Five year/100,000 km warranty.

Pricing

The Premium package on the 2L model is very good value. Poor value 2L GT package. Once additional standard features are accounted for, Hyundai charges about $2000 extra to upgrade to the V6. Very expensive automatic transmission option on the 2L car. The Genesis coupe did well last year, with sales roughly matching those of the Camaro and the Challenger.

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags. In tests conducted by the NHTSA, the Genesis coupe was rated Very Good for the driver and Good for the front passenger in frontal impacts, and Very Good for front occupants (rear not evaluated) in side impacts. Standard ABS and ESC.  


Mazda MX-5

ABOVE AVERAGE

MAZDA MX-5 (RWD)

Body Style: 2 CV*, 2 CV/CP

Engine: 2L-4 167 HP

Transmission: 5M (GX), 6M* (GS, GT), 6A, 6A Paddle Shift (GT)

City fuel economy: 9.7L/100 km

ESC: Available

Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

The hardtop is no longer optional on the base GX trim level.

Performance

The 2L four derived from the Mazda 3 is smooth, flexible and willing, but some drivers find its exhaust note tiring. A light, progressive clutch is allied to a precise, short-throw gearchange. The ride is remarkably absorbent considering the big wheels and low-profile tires worn by the GT model tested. Terrific balance and agility. Strong brakes. The cabin borders on the luxurious, with careful assembly of attractive components. Big, clear instrumentation and simple, logical controls. The trunk is bigger than expected. The convertible top folds in a way that turns it into its own neatly-finished tonneau cover. Wind noise is well-controlled with the top up, and top-down wind buffeting is minimal with the windows up.

Reliability

Above average reliability is predicted, but some problems have been reported with Mazda products over the last few years. Three year/80,000 km, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain. 

Comments

The Power Retractable Hardtop (PRHT) option consists of two metal roof sections, a separate glass rear window and a rear-hinged tonneau cover that moves upward to allow the roof to be retracted, then repositions itself. The rear fenders, trunk lid and tonneau are unique to the PRHT model. The hardtop folds so compactly it does not impinge on trunk space. The PRHT option adds only 36 kg (79 lbs.) to the MX-5's weight. Power flows to the rear wheels via a five-speed manual on the GX, or a six-speed manual on the GS and GT and trim levels. A six-speed automatic is optional on all trim levels, with shift paddles added on the GT model. Made in Japan.  

Pricing

The hardtop is a $2295 option on the GS trim level but is standard on the GT. The MX-5 GX is a lot of car for the money. The GS upgrade package is overpriced by about $1200. The GT package is very good value. Fully equipped, MX-5 GT PRHT is priced about 10 percent less than a Volkswagen Eos Highline.  

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags. Not crash tested. Standard ABS. ESC is standard on the GS and the GT, but is not offered on the GX.  

Mazda RX-8

.

ABOVE AVERAGE

MAZDA RX-8 (RWD)

Body Style: 4CP

Engine: 1.3L Twin Rotary 232 HP (manual), 212 HP (automatic)

Transmissions: 6M*, 6A

City fuel economy: 12.8L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

The model range is reduced to the returning GT and the sporty new R3 model. Standard for 2010 are a limited slip differential, a stability control system, traction control and xenon headlights.

Performance

The Renesis rotary engine lacks torque and feels little stronger than 170 horsepower in day-to-day driving, and has to be kept on-the-boil to extract maximum performance from it. However, the engine is so smooth at high revs that Mazda installed an audible warning device to remind you to upshift. The short-travel gearlever controls a well-chosen sextet of gears. The RX-8's precise steering is allied to a chassis that combines good grip with a supple ride. The interior is tasteful, practical, and carefully assembled. The instrumentation is elegant and easy to read at night, but the gauges wash out in direct sunlight. The seats are comfortable on any trip and the innovative design provides enough cabin space for four average-size adults. The pillarless doors allow easy access to the rear seats, and provide anchor points for the front seat belts. The RX-8 is a hot car that was literally hot during our test. Heat-soak through the transmission tunnel combines with insufficient cabin cooling capacity to leave occupants hotter than they'd like to be in sultry weather. Very good audio system. Finding the dipstick, located low in the engine compart, puts hands in close proximity to hot engine components, and is a long reach for shorter drivers. If oil is needed, a decorative engine cover must be removed to reveal the oil filler.

Reliability

Not rated, insufficient data. Repairs are limited to a small number of shops experienced with rotary engines. The lower body and the rear wheel wells are vulnerable to rust. The air conditioner condenser is vulnerable to damage from road projections. Three year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain, and 8 years/160,000 on the rotary engine core.   

Comments

The RX-8 is a genuine sports car, but it is also a practical daily driver for a small family. The Renesis rotary engine has a great thirst for fuel, especially in urban driving. The RX-8's styling, with faux cycle fenders, high beltline, small glazed area, and pillarless door construction, reflects a 1930's influence. RX-8 sales dropped about 40 percent last year, to about 300 units. Made in Japan.

Pricing

Upgrading to the GT trim level represents very good value. The six-speed automatic is a no cost option on the GT model. The RX-8 GT is priced about $3000 more than admittedly much less elegant and practical Nissan 370Z coupe. There are few people looking for an RX-8 either new or used, so depreciation is swift. Leasing isn't an option to avoid depreciation as monthly lease payments (48 months, $0. down) are more than $200 higher than they are for financing (60 months, $0. down).    

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags. In tests conducted by the NHTSA, the RX-8 was rated Good for the driver and Very Good for the front passenger in frontal impacts, and Good for all outboard occupants in side impacts. Standard ABS and ESC.


Mitsubishi Eclipse

NOT RATED

MITSUBISHI

2011 Eclipse (FWD)

Body Style: 2CP, 2CV

Engines: 2.4L-4* 162 HP, 3.8L-V6 265 HP

Transmissions: 5M, 4A*, 6M, 5A

City fuel economy: 10.1/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

What's new

There was no 2010 Eclipse, but the 2011 model went on sale in the spring of 2010. GS: the GS gains the black grille accents previously seen on the GT-P. ESC is now standard. All: lowered suspension, auxiliary audio input added, coupe roofs are now painted black, and all models ride on 18 inch wheels. GT-P: horsepower increases from 263 to 265.  

Performance

The 3.8L V6 delivers strong acceleration and sounds great in the process. Very stable on the highway. Strong brakes. The chassis set-up on four-cylinder cars is particularly good.

Comments

The curvy, muscular shape of the fourth-generation Eclipse returns to the styling themes explored on the second-generation car in such a strong way as to make the third-generation car look like an aberration. The frontal treatment introduced for 2009 resembles that of the Nissan GT-R. The Eclipse's cabin is quite avant-garde, looking like it's from a concept car. The colours and textures used in the interior are innovative and a refreshing change from the humdrum cabins many makers foist on their customers. The current car is built in the U.S. on the same platform as the Endeavor and Galant. Despite its substantial bulk, the Eclipse is still cramped in the back seat. The convertible body style is even more striking than the coupe, but the back seat is even tighter. Power choices include a 162 horsepower 2.4L inline four and a 3.8L V6, that in this application, produces 265 horsepower. Power is sent to the front wheels via either a five-speed manual transmission or four-speed automatic on four cylinder cars, with a choice of a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic on V6 cars. Made in the United States.

Reliability

Not rated, insufficient data. Expect expensive parts. Five year/100,000 km bumper to bumper warranty and 10 years/160,000 km on the powertrain, the best warranty in the business.

Pricing

At around $24,500, the Eclipse GS coupe is well-equipped for the money. The Sun & Sound package is excellent value, and except for leather upholstery, replicates the GT-P package while avoiding the V6 engine. The GT-P model ratchets up the price by $8800, but includes about $6500 worth of extra equipment as well as 103 additional horsepower. Similarly equipped (the GS soft top has most of the equipment from the Sun and Sound package as standard), a convertible is priced $2700 higher than an equivalent coupe, a bargain in convertible terms. Eclipse sales plummeted 50 percent last year, to about 800 units.  

Safety

Side airbags are standard on all models, but side-curtain air bags are restricted to the hatchback body style. The Eclipse convertible was rated Good in the IIHS frontal and side impact tests, and Marginal in the IIHS rear impact test. Ranked 6th of the 7 cars tested in its segment. Standard ABS and ESC.   


Nissan 370Z

ABOVE AVERAGE

NISSAN 370Z (RWD)

Body Style: 2CP*, 2CV

Engine: 3.7L-V6 332 HP

Transmission: 6M*, 7A

City fuel consumption: 11.6L/100 km

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What's new

The 370Z lineup now includes a convertible body style. A USB port is now standard on all 370Zs. A Fortieth Anniversary edition Z car was introduced late in the 2010 model year.    

Comments

Spun off the Infiniti G37's FM platform, the 2009 370Z is now in its second year of production. The 370Z is fast and very agile, but a bit rough-edged and extremely noisy. While visually arresting, with a taut, muscular stance, the 370Z, from the currently popular "Brutalist" school of design, lacks the sleek beauty of its predecessor. The cabin, with smooth flowing shapes and attractive materials, succeeds where the exterior fails. The sole engine on offer is a 3.7L V6 with 332 horsepower. Power reaches the rear wheels via either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic transmission. Optional on manual transmission Zs is a feature that blips the throttle on downshifts to better match engine and transmission speeds. Made in Japan.

Reliability

New model, not rated. Predicted above average reliability. Replacing a set of tires can easily top $2000. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

Pricing

The convertible body style is priced $6500 higher than the coupe. The overpriced Sport package is mandatory if you want the navigation system. The 40th Anniversary Edition is priced about $1000 higher than a regular 370Z equipped with the Sport and Navigation packages.

Safety

Standard seat-mounted side and side curtain (door-mounted on the convertible) airbags are standard. Not crash tested. Standard ABS and ESC.


Volkswagen Eos

ABOVE AVERAGE

VOLKSWAGEN Eos (FWD)

Body Style: 2CP/CV

Engines: 2L-4T DOHC 200 HP

Transmissions: 6M, 6A/DSG*

City fuel economy: 9.2L/100

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

What's new

The Comfortline name replaces the Trendline as the entry-level Eos, with the Highline becoming the top Eos for 2010. Equipment and package changes, including new Sport options for both trim levels.

Comments

The Eos is VW's answer to the burgeoning retractable hardtop cabrio market in Europe, where all the major makers field entries. Based on VW's variable platform that underpins the Jetta and Passat, the Eos is marginally shorter, wider, and lower than the Jetta. The two-piece retractable hardtop has a large retractable sunroof, a unique feature in this segment. The interior, which features mostly Jetta-based components, is attractive and solidly constructed. VW rates the Eos as a four-seater, and while the rear seat is tight, space is similar to that offered in the Chrysler Sebring convertible. With the roof down, trunk space is limited to a smallish storage box. There is no sensor in the trunk to stop the top from retracting if something is in its path. Rear parking sensors that prevent the top from being retracted unless there is enough space for the rear deck tonneau to lift up, are standard. The sole engine choice in Canada is VW's familiar 2L turbo four. Power reaches the front wheels through either a six-speed manual or VW's Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) with six gears. Standard equipment includes a vehicle stability system with roll-over sensors that trigger roll-over hoops in the rear headrests to deploy if the car tips. The 2L turbo is strong, smooth and flexible, the manual transmission works well, and the DSG is a delight to use. The structure appears stout, but the roof creaks a bit with the top up. The Eos is like a new age Karmann-Ghia, a civilized touring car at a reasonable price. Built in Germany. 

Reliability

Average reliability is predicted. Few complaints have been received about new VW products launched since 2006. The complex folding hardtop and the new DSG transmission are, as of yet, unproven.  

Pricing

The EOS Highline is priced nearly $7000 higher than the base Comfortline, which approximates the value of the extra content the fancier model contains. The Technology packages on offer represent reasonable value. The Trendline Sport package is overpriced. VW's sophisticated DSG transmission is priced at $1400. The Eos is priced nearly $7000 higher than a New Beetle convertible, but costs around $14,000 less than the bigger Volvo C70. Eos sales declined about 30 percent in 2009.

Safety

Combined seat-mounted head and torso side airbags are standard. Rollover protection system deploys protective elements in the event of a rollover or lateral tilt. The Eos was rated Good in the IIHS frontal, side and rear impact tests. Ranked 4th out of the 7 cars tested in its segment. Standard ABS and ESC.